SUVA, Fiji (Feb. 26) - It seems the problems in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces will never end. As the echoes of the feud between the commander and the ambassador-elect to the People’s Republic of China die away, the din of battle is heard again.

This time it’s five senior and experienced officers who have threatened court action against the commander if he makes good his threat to have them removed from the armed forces.

The five were sent on leave because, it is alleged, they could not or would not pledge allegiance to the commander.

The commander has since made it known that there is no room for them under his command and they should retire or be forced out.

All what is clear at this stage is that the battle is by no means over.

What lies at the bottom of this increasingly bitter divide within the military can only be guessed at but it is reasonable to conclude that the causes go all the way back to the momentous events of November 2, 2000 and possibly to the commander’s original appointment.

But the causes are by now less important than the effects.

The public does not like to see conflict within the military. There is deep-seated unease when the men and women who make up what needs to be a force, united in its mission and its methods, are seen to fight amongst themselves.

It’s as though their ultimate mission - to protect the nation and its cherished institutions - is somehow compromised.

At the same time it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for the Prime Minister, who only a few weeks ago, felt obliged to very publicly douse what many saw as the flames of instability ignited by the feud between the commander and a former senior officer.

Today he must feel as though public bickering in the military will be a never-ending headache.

But for the good of the nation, it has to end. There’s no doubt that views are equally sincerely held on both sides of this divide. But the nation cannot wait for the courts to resolve the battle.

All of the players in this drama have taken an oath of allegiance – not to any individual but to the nation and its people. They should fulfill that oath today.

February 26, 2004




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